Terrorism is not a new phenomenon and it seems to boil down to one concept: superiority, especially superiority by means of power for the purpose of causing fear. Sometimes it is meant specifically to bring down a nation or cripple a nation severely.
In Turkey, there have now been six major terrorist attacks this year, the latest being in Istanbul. My heart breaks for the country. In fact I mourn with the Turkish people, and we all should.
What causes people to commit acts of terror, though? How can these acts be prevented? Security helps, but security in the United States is perhaps the best security in the world and still a gunman entered a club in Orlando, committing an atrocious hate crime and act of terror. Later investigation showed that the signs were all there and that the shooting could have been prevented, including the fact that a Florida gun-shop owner actually called the FBI concerning his attempt to buy ammunition and body armor well before the ordeal. Security, as great as it can be, still fails.
I want an answer because my heart and my mind grow weary of unjust violence and unjust, hateful criticism. My heart and mind grow weary of leaders using national tragedies to advance a political agenda. If I did not know Christ, I would surely be bitter; or perhaps I wouldn’t care.
I am not convinced that gun control would solve the problem. We’ve had stricter gun control in the States before. In 1994 an assault weapons ban was signed into law and it restricted the purchase and use of semi-automatic weapons. The ban lasted until 2004. During this time there were about 22 terror attacks killing at least 63 people with firearms. A weapons ban did not save the lives of American citizens. During that time, there were at least 59 terror attacks altogether killing at least 3,727 people. Most often, the weapon of choice was a bomb that could be crafted in someone’s basement. I fear that we hurt our own investigation into acts of terror when we focus so heavily on whether or not a weapons ban of any kind should be put in place. I’m not sure it’s the right answer. Acts of terror are still carried out with great numbers of victims. So that I might address both sides of the issue, lawfully carrying a firearm will not protect us from an unexpected blast or shrapnel. Terrorists will use whatever weapons are at their disposal and no ban of any kind can stop that. It is a lesson we have already learned in this country.
As I mentioned before, terrorism seems to be about superiority. Sadly, our current society teaches us that we must be superior in every manner. We must be superior to others in our intellect. We must be superior to others in the way we keep our bodies. We must be superior to others in athletics. We must be superior to others in our career. We must be superior to others in our formal education. We must be superior to others in thought. We must be superior to others in our convictions. We must be superior to others in our argumentation. We must be superior to others.
I have to ask why, as American citizens, we often don’t see the issue as an object of superiority. It may be because we are also taught to be superior in every aspect of life. If we cannot rise to superiority, society counts us as worthless, though it might not admit it. Here is where I believe every person can learn from the words of Scripture.
Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and that of the Father and the holy angels. I tell you the truth: There are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:23-27 HCSB).
When we always teach superiority, we will be more likely to have those we teach rising up to assert the superiority that we teach them to have. Unfortunately, this is the current pattern of virtually every life-philosophy in the world. Religions teach superiority. Nations teach superiority. Parents teach superiority. We do so both by our words and in the example we set. In a world where superiority is the identity of the people, there will unfortunately be terrorism; even terrorism on a mass scale. In a world where superiority is the identity of the people, unjust violence and unjust, hateful criticism will unfortunately reign. In this type of world, tragedies will unfortunately be used by some to advance political agendas.
What can be done? I fear that on this earth before Christ’s return, the answer is “not much.” I do imagine, however, that asserting superiority cannot repair a problem caused by a superiority complex. Instead, it seems that terrorism might only be perpetuated as more and more people assert their superiority like this world has instructed them. I imagine it would be better for us if we denied ourselves, sought the truth, and followed Christ. Just because many people around us seek to tout their own superiority does not mean we have to. When we deny ourselves, we might even be able to make better decisions about security and regarding the law because our agendas now may genuinely benefit others instead of being formed to benefit only ourselves and those like us.
What I am not suggesting is that this is a fix to the problem. It is not. What I am simply suggesting is that if we want to strive to solve the problem in a meaningful way, we must begin by addressing our own superiority complexes.